Is a high serum copper concentration a risk factor for implantation failure?
BMC Research Notes, August 2017
Hidehiko Matsubayashi, Kotaro Kitaya, Kohei Yamaguchi, Rie Nishiyama, Yukiko Takaya, Tomomoto Ishikawa
Copper-containing contraceptive devices may deposit copper ions in the endometrium, resulting in implantation failure. The deposition of copper ions in many organs has been reported in patients with untreated Wilson's disease. Since these patients sometimes exhibit subfertility and/or early pregnancy loss, copper ions were also considered to accumulate in the uterine endometrium. Wilson's disease patients treated with zinc successfully delivered babies because zinc interfered with the absorption of copper from the gastrointestinal tract. These findings led to the hypothesis that infertile patients with high serum copper concentrations may have implantation failure due to the excess accumulation of copper ions. The relationship between implantation (pregnancy) rates and serum copper concentrations has not yet been examined. The Japanese government recently stated that actual copper intake was higher among Japanese than needed. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate whether serum copper concentrations are related to the implantation (pregnancy) rates of human embryos in vivo. We included 269 patients (age <40 years old) who underwent vitrifying and warming single embryo transfer with a hormone replacement cycle using good blastocysts (3BB or more with Gardner's classification). Serum hCG, copper, and zinc concentrations were measured 16 days after the first date of progesterone replacement. We compared 96 women who were pregnant without miscarriage at 10 weeks of gestation (group P) and 173 women who were not pregnant (group NP). No significant differences were observed in age or BMI between the groups. Copper concentrations were significantly higher in group NP (average 193.2 μg/dL) than in group P (average 178.1 μg/dL). According to the area under the curve (AUC) on the receiver operating characteristic curve for the prediction of clinical pregnancy rates, the Cu/Zn ratio (AUC 0.64, 95% CI 0.54-0.71) was a better predictor than copper or zinc. When we set the cut-off as 1.59/1.60 for the Cu/Zn ratio, sensitivity, specificity, the positive predictive value, and negative predictive value were 0.98, 0.29, 0.71, and 0.88, respectively. Our single-center retrospective study suggests that high serum copper concentrations (high Cu/Zn ratio) are a risk factor for implantation failure.
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